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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Powerful Argentine Ex-President (and Likely Future President) Nestor Kirchner Dies



"Former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, the current president's husband and a leading contender to succeed her in next year's election, died from a heart attack on Wednesday.

"Kirchner, 60, was credited by many Argentines with putting South America's No. 2 economy back on its feet after a devastating 2001/02 economic crisis, but critics reviled his combative style and interventionist economic policies.

"Argentine bond and stock prices rose on news of the death of the center-leftist, who kept a firm hold on the reins of power even after his wife Cristina Fernandez was elected to succeed him in 2007.

[...]

"His death raises uncertainty about the government's strategy for next year's election, and might encourage Fernandez to seek a second consecutive term.

"Kirchner was still a popular leader when he left the presidency but his approval ratings have since fallen sharply and his wife has emerged as the more popular of the two.

[...]

"Critics branded Kirchner's tough political style and strongly worded attacks on big business, journalists and political rivals as authoritarian.

"When farmers rebelled over a tax hike on soy exports in 2008, he accused them of plotting a coup and told supporters to boycott companies that hiked prices. He increased state control over the economy and nationalized several companies.

"Kirchner focused on cementing political alliances at home to shore up his administration and that of his wife, but he was secretary general of South America's regional grouping Unasur and had close links with fellow Latin American leftists such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who called his death 'a huge loss.'

[...]

"Kirchner also won praise for his efforts to bring military leaders to trial for human rights crimes committed during the nation's 1976-1983 dictatorship, in which as many as 30,000 people were killed in a crackdown on leftist dissent.

"When his wife succeeded him, many commentators compared the power couple to another husband-and-wife political dynasty to dominate Argentine politics -- former President Gen. Juan Domingo Peron and his famous wife Evita.

[...]

"Investors disliked Kirchner's unorthodox economic policies, such as price controls and export freezes to curb inflation. Those policies have largely continued during his wife's administration, and Argentine financial assets abroad rallied on news of his death."

This is a very interesting development in Argentina. It will be interesting to watch Argentinean politics for the next couple of years after the upcoming election. This could potentially result in a quite shift in Argentina's politics. Certainly there will at least be a shake up/jockeying within his Peronist Justicialist Party.

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